Earthen Vessel 1890:
Mr. J. Morling, Pastor, High Wycombe, Bucks.
Dear Brother Winters,—I first saw the light on May 12th, 1843, in the village of Cottenham, Cambs., at one time noted for its fine quality of cheese. My parents being members of the Particular Baptist Chapel in Rooks-lane, now known as “Ebenezer,” it was my lot to be brought up under the truth, which then had no charms for me. Amidst many dangers, God, in His merciful providence, preserved me alive. On one occasion I fell from a high tree, was picked up by my companions insensible, but soon recovered, and do not remember to, have felt any ill effects afterwards. From childhood my mind was subject to strong impressions, a sort of convictions. Sometimes dreaming the end of the world had come. On hearing the late R. G. Edwards preach from “Be sure your sin will find you out,” my mind was much alarmed. The effects never really left me. The verse:—
“And must the crimes that I have done
Be read and published there;
Be all exposed before the sun,
While men and angels hear?”
sorely haunted me. I could not sin cheaply. Resting on the false and absurd notion of abstract mercy, there was an inward determination to sin and have my own way, really hating God, and wishing I could annihilate Him and reign supreme myself. O how sadly true is Rom. 8:7!
In July, 1859, the set time had come for God to show the riches and power of His sovereign grace. Being in my bedroom one Lord’s-day, the thought seized me, that my flesh had a very queer appearance, and that I should turn rotten, die, and go to hell. My sins and follies sprung up before me like grim spectres. Death, the judgment, hell, and eternity became dread realities indeed. A resolution was soon formed to pray, and reform, and try and secure God’s favour (I was then utterly ignorant of the plan of salvation). With trembling and heart-fluttering pardon was sought. Old associates were at once abandoned. Evil practices were a terror and were shunned as deadly vipers. After a time, the terrors having somewhat subsided, the inward evils of the heart not having been really discovered, a pharisaic spirit possessed me, I was proud of having made good progress. The fountains of the great deep had need to be broken up. A sermon one Sunday evening, in the Spirit’s hand, cut me up root and branch. My goodness vanished. More than thirty years have not erased the feeling, nor obliterated the memory of the groaning that night, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Darkness and wretchedness prevailed. Day by day, and week by week, sin, and guilt, and fear, made me miserable. After a time a sermon preached by J. S. Wyard, from Mal. 3:16, proved encouraging to me, but no sense of pardon was realized. The day of light and liberty and peace came, on hearing the late Philip Arber, in “Ebenezer,” from Hos. 2:19,20. The exercises of my soul were clearly traced out. His words were like balm to my wounded heart. A sweet consciousness pervaded the mind that the Lord had pardoned my sins. My soul inwardly exclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” My burden was gone. My mind soon became exercised about baptism. Being ignorant of the doctrine of conservation (as also of the other doctrines), a fear possessed me that, if I was baptized I should prove like the fruitless fig-tree, and be cut down as a cumberer of the ground. However, God gave courage and strength to relate to the Church a little of His gracious dealings with me, and on July 31, 1860, I was baptized by Mr. J. S. Wyard in the river, with eighteen others; one of whom afterwards became my wife. Many hundreds of spectators were on the banks of the river.
“What is truth?” now became a matter of deep concern with me. A man named Dawson lent me one of Mr. James Wells’ sermons. It was light and food to my soul. Shortly afterwards it was my privilege to hear him preach at St. Ives. It proved a blessing. After this, Mr. Wells’ Sunday morning sermons were obtained and eagerly read. They were sweetly blessed to me. Not only was my soul fed as with marrow and fatness, but the difference between law and Gospel, between the old covenant and the new covenant, was opened up to me, and so my mind became established in the everlasting verities of “the Gospel of Christ.” During that period, God in His providence was leading me in a trying and mysterious pathway. My father, who was a butcher and gardener, meeting with an accident, while I was yet a lad, which brought on paralysis, was rendered weaker than a child, and which lasted for some years. The burden of the business fell chiefly upon me. My hopes were overturned and my projects crossed. At the same time my mind was much exercised about preaching the Gospel. The thought of my ignorance, natural bashfulness, and timidity, seemed utterly against it. My exercises were kept a secret in my own bosom. It appeared afterwards, that Mr. Jonathan Webb, an itinerant preacher with whom I was acquainted, had quite an impression God had designed me for the ministry. On one occasion he got me to drive him to Chittering, when he tried hard to get me to preach instead of him, but I stoutly refused. At length, however, through his instrumentality, I used to go to Hampton, and read a chapter and make a few remarks, and God eventually enlarged my heart, and opened my mouth.
Removing to Saffron Walden, in Essex, my soul passed through another terrible ordeal. Deliverance came only by obeying the words, “Set the trumpet to thy mouth.” Unsought and unexpectedly God opened doors and blessed the Word. After some months, the Church at Glemsford, Suffolk (now “Ebenezer”) sent for me. Having supplied for them eight months, I went and lived there, till the cloud removed to “Zoar,” Ipswich. There, for about eight and a-half years, the Lord’s goodness was made to pass before us in many ways-sixty-eight persons were added to the Church. Being permitted to leave a peaceful and united Church, to go to New-street, St. Neots, for a time, He who worketh deliverances for Jacob, evidently led me to Over, Cambs, where, for upwards of seven years, God gave testimony to the word of His grace. On March 26th of the present year a remarkable coincidence occurred. On that evening I was much helped in preaching my last sermon at Over. The very same evening the Church at “Zion” Chapel, High Wycombe, unanimously resolved to invite me to the pastorate. That invitation was accepted, and now the cry of my own heart is, and evidently that of the Church also, “O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity.” Amen.
Josiah Morling (1843-?) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was minister of the gospel for several churches, including those meeting at Glemsford, Suffolk; “Zoar," Ipswich; New-street, St. Neots; Over, Cambs; “Zion" Chapel, High Wycombe.